Smartphones, Phablets, Tablets & Web Design

by | Mobile, Websites

A recent article in Forbes by George Anders predicts that ‘phablets’ will outsell ‘tablets’ in 2014. The assumption seems to be that phablets will take the place of smartphones, at least for some of us.IDC-Slideshare

Wikipedia says that the phablet “is a class of mobile device designed to combine or straddle the functions of a smartphone and tablet. Phablets are characterized by the use of large screens, typically with a diagonal size between 5 to 6.9 inches (130 to 180 mm), which complement screen-intensive activity such as mobile web browsing and multimedia viewing.”

According to a research report by IDC and sponsored by Facebook, we tend to spend only 16% of our time talking on smartphones. The rest of our time is spent “communicating via text, email and social,” according to the report.

While the amount of time spent browsing the web isn’t specifically mentioned, the report graphics indicate people are using smartphones as follows:

  • 78% use for email
  • 73% use for web browsing
  • 70% use for Facebook (and likely other social networks too)
  • 64% use for maps and directions
  • 60% use for games


Although most of us don’t want to talk on the phone with a large device/phablet pressed against our ear, we do want to be able to easily access online information, search, read and communicate, whether by phone, email or text, with others. And Bluetooth and other wireless devices make this possible.

The other factor that will influence whether phablets work for people, or not, will be how easy they are to carry around. For those who carry their smartphone on a belt around their waist or in a pocket, the size of the device will be an issue. If they can’t easily accommodate it on their person, in other words too large, it won’t work for them. Smartphone providers are likely to figure out a way to make this work. How about a foldable screen?

For those of us who carry our phone, tablet or phablet in a purse, size isn’t much of an issue, especially if we’re talking about devices sized somewhere between a phone and a tablet.

In a day where most of us seem to carry our mobile devices with us (almost) everywhere we go, the idea of a phablet certainly appeals to me. While I like my iPhone (I used to love it), I find it too small. On the other hand, my husband’s LG, with an extra .25″ of width and 1″ longer, seems much larger. That little bit of extra room makes a big difference when looking at a website, responding to an email, etc.

Does your website ‘work’ on mobile devices?

But, what does all of this have to do with web design? Lots!

The importance of having a website that shows well and is ‘user friendly’ on all kinds of devices is becoming more critical with every passing day. It is no longer enough to look good on a pc or laptop! As more and more people become comfortable with their smartphones, they will continue to find new ways to use them when they’re thinking, shopping, writing, working, etc. And, many are already doing this.

An eConsultancy article on mobile influence, based on a UK study by Deloitte Research reports, “mobile influenced consumers are more valuable customers. Those that used their mobile phone during a shopping trip spent 61% more than the average. Those who didn’t use their mobile phones spent 10% less.”


If your website isn’t easy to read on mobile devices, with clear navigation, you will lose business. If not today, soon.

Smartphone Ownership/Usage Growing

In 2013, eMarketer reported:

The average person, I’d wager, is looking to make their lives simpler, not more complicated. They want fewer devices that do more stuff, not more devices to add to the mix (read “carry around”).

The idea of a phablet may appeal to the many of us who are using our smartphones not just to make phone calls, but also to do many of the things that used to only be done on a pc or laptop.

Works for me!